Travel is one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences in life, but the options for seeing the world can be severely shortened by lack of money. Air fare, accommodation, transport, sightseeing, food - these can all can drain your resources quicker than you can say ‘tip not included’. But there are many ways you can travel on a budget, using research and ingenuity to find ways to stretch your money so you can see more of the world on less of your salary. Our guide to travelling the world on a budget will give you everything you need to get further for less.
Fly for free
Air fares represent the biggest costs for travellers, but a bit of online research and form-filling you can quickly build up enough air miles to reduce the cost of your trip. Many airlines now have credit cards, which lure people in with an introductory offer of thousands of air miles, while some loyalty cards for stores and supermarkets allow you to convert points into air tickets. Add that to special deals, limited time offers, cashback, partner deals, newsletter sign-up bonuses, and any other of the many promotional schemes airlines use and you can quickly build up your points to get to your dream destination.
Stay for free
Hotels and guest houses will always be the most expensive options when it comes to accommodation, but there are a number of online services that can connect adventurous travellers with welcoming locals willing to offer their spare bedroom/couch/floor for very low prices – or even for free. There may not be much in the way of room service or turned-down sheets, but you’ll get the great experience of living in someone’s home and a fascinating insight into local culture.
Share and share alike
The sharing economy has revolutionised the travel industry in the past decade and you can now find budget versions of every aspect of travelling, from accommodation to transport to dining to tour guides. Of course, home sharing sites such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing are the big names in cheap accommodation abroad, and they will certainly stretch your budget much further than if you stayed in a hotel. But add these top ways to budget your trip to a ride-sharing service such as BlaBlaCar and a meal-sharing service such as EatWith, and your entire trip can take a cheaper and more adventurous turn.
In most major towns and cities around the world there will be a selection of discount cards designed to encourage tourists to spend their money in the local museums, restaurants and on public transport. Find out what these cards are and apply for them before you go. And when you get there, use them to get hefty discounts on your holiday. If you’re under 26 or a student or teacher, there are often extra discounts available, so take advantage of your youth or profession.
Work your way around
One of the best ways to travel the world on a budget is to work in some or all of the places you visit. If you’re prepared to put the work in and don’t mind long hours, there are plenty of opportunities to top up your travel fund while getting a first-hand taste of living and working in a new country. Possible jobs include:
- Bar worker
- Waiting tables
- Au pair
- Tour guide
- Ski resort staff
- Farm worker
- Cruise ship staff
There’s also a big demand for people able to teach English abroad, particularly in Asian countries. The best way to get a job is to first get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification, but there are some positions that don’t require one and many schools will even pay for your flight and help you with your accommodation.
Instead of staying in an impersonal hotel, think about looking after someone else’s home while they go away to budget your trip. Whether they have pets they need looking after or are worried about the security of their home, many people prefer to have someone living in their home when they’re on holiday or on a business trip, so are willing to let people stay in their home for free. The time you can stay there depends on the owner and can either be days or months, but you get all bills paid as well as full run of the house to relax and cook in. Try Trusted House Sitters or Mind My House for mainly European and US houses.